Today we’re driving Nelson to Christchurch Inland Route on a glorious Autumn morning. The Coastal Route may have better cafe options, but the inland route scenery is breathtaking and less travelled.
Driving to Springs Junction, the views constantly change. This one would have to be the day’s favourite:
For me, Springs Junction is merely a petrol and toilet stop but if you’re desperately hungry, there is a ‘tearoom’. You might want to travel a bit further to the cafe at Maruia Springs. There is accommodation at Maruia Springs which has recently changed ownership and undergone refurbishment. Leaving the wide open spaces, we enter into a beautiful forest.
This is the point where Michael becomes the passenger and I take over the driving (except that he never stops being the driver) I like the photo he took showing the milky green of the Maruia River.
The beauty of the Lewis Pass is especially gorgeous after a dusting of snow, however we’ll have to wait a few more months before it’s looking like this:
Driving into the flatness of the Canterbury Plains, we head into the beautiful wine country of Waipara for lunch at the Nor’Wester Cafe at Amberley (a great choice with friendly staff and quality food). The Canterbury Plains are New Zealand’s largest area of flat land, with straight roads cutting across a patchwork of paddocks. Tonight we’re staying at the Hotel Montreal in Christchurch. Beautiful spacious Junior Suite and friendly, helpful housekeeping staff.
Tomorrow marks the official commencement of a very significant birthday for moi! Queenstown here we come. Let the celebrations begin!
We do have our top favourite Nelson cafe restaurants, but when there’s a new kid on the block, we’ll be the first to try it. This little neighbourhood cafe is a real sweetie. Cafe 7010 on Collingwood Street is located opposite the Mitai River, just far enough from the central hub to enjoy a relaxing breather.
Cafe 7010 has the feel of a neighbourhood ‘local’. The cabinet cafe food is not extensive, but the owner has made some clever choices. Good coffee.
On a different level of our top Favourite Nelson cafe restaurants, is the Cod & Lobster Brassiere located at the cathedral end of Trafalgar Street. It offers a full dining experience and as the name suggests, a great fish menu. You can also get lunch plus coffee and cake during the day.
Cod & Lobster Brassiere has a variety of outdoor seating perfect for the warm Nelson weather. The Trafalger Street side is ideal for people-watching.
We don’t often get the chance to chill out under a Nelson Sun. It’s turning out to be a very busy season, so it’s always nice to be welcomed back by staff at our top Favourite Nelson cafe restaurants, who recognise loyal customers.
Each year around 6th February, we Kiwis get a public holiday to enjoy Waitangi Day celebrations in New Zealand. This means a long, relaxing weekend of barbecues, family picnics and calm weather. Each region pays special attention to cultural events acknowledging New Zealand’s most historic document Te Tiriti o Waitangi, The Treaty of Waitangi.
This is a day that we New Zealanders remember the spirit of being one nation. We all have differing political opinions, but our commonality as New Zealanders is enough for this day.
Where else in the world do we have so much freedom to be our individual selves? I love the fact that as a female, I can get into my ‘togs’ (swimwear) without fear of harassment and join other happy families. We can openly criticize those that govern us without fear of reprisal.
We’re a nation of adventurers and will give anything a go. That’s why we’re often the first in the world to take on a new idea or trend. In other countries, banking transactions can take days or even weeks! Our banking systems are so advanced, transfers happen in one day.
You don’t have to travel far in this country for unobstructed views of beaches, forests and mountains. There are many places where you won’t see another car for miles and the only sounds are those made by nature.
I grew up listening to the evening chorus of cicadas, Tuis and Bellbirds. They lulled me to sleep and still do. There’s a lot to celebrate here folks.
Clothes for New Zealand glacier walks should be chosen with care. For a lot of travellers going down the West Coast of the South Island to Fox and Franz Josef glaciers, landing and walking on a glacier, is a must-do, but it’s usually only the guides that wear the shorts!
Generally visitors will either do a standard helicopter flight into the ‘Neve’ at around 2500 metre with an ice landing (for about 5-10 minutes) or they’ll join a guided walk with two short helicopter flights. This is called heli hike and generally takes about 2 hours on the ice. On this heli hiking option walkers need to prepare their clothing well.
Temperatures and weather conditions on a glacier in New Zealand can change rapidly. At any given time the sun may be shining and when the strong sunlight reflects off the ice, you’ll get hot and sweaty. At this stage, you might even be happy to walk on the glacier in a t-shirt! But the minute the sun goes, the temperature plummets and it’s like standing on top of a fridge. And if you’re moving around (say waiting for your helicopter to arrive) it can get extremely cold…fast. The perfect solution is the ‘onion’ clothing system – peeling on and off clothing.
Using the “onion” method requires that you wear layers of clothing that can easily be peeled off (e.g. t-shirt, sweater, rain jacket, hat, hand-gloves and sunglasses. Jeans are not recommended – if the cotton gets wet or damp, you’ll start sweating. Non-cotton trousers such as Hiking trousers, are the best.
Sunblock is essential and sunglasses are a must-have. The location alpine guide operator will provide you with a walking stick, sturdy mountain boots, crampons and a couple of socks (yes you should use two pairs of socks to prevent blisters!). If you don’t have a good rain jacket, use one of the operator’s “yellows”. The saying goes, “there is no bad weather, only bad equipment and clothing”. Listen to your alpine guides and enjoy yourselves.
For most of us in the tourism industry, the season has been mad! We need a quick break for a couple of days so we’re heading to Kaikoura Whale Country. I never tire of that first glimpse of the Kaikoura Coast. Its a beautiful green sea in the foreground and the deeper blue beyond where the whales roam. The shoreline has changed a bit since the earthquakes but this has not detracted from the rugged beauty at all. Now that access to Kaikoura has been re-established, I think the next season is going to get busy.
I think most travellers would agree that its preferable to arrive at your destination on a gorgeous summer’s day. With Kaikoura Whale Country, we’ve always been pretty darn lucky with the weather. The sea views from the main road always provide a reflective moment. You can almost see the cobwebs blowing away. Its time to relax.
We’ve noticed a trend with some high-end travellers to New Zealand of mixing and matching their accommodation. So rather than staying in premium lodges for their entire stay, they’re happy to include unique cottage stays. With this type of accommodation, privacy and peace is pretty much guaranteed. Here’s Kincaid Cottage in Kaikoura:
I loved this cottage/house from the moment I walked in. There were beautiful views from every side. People travelling with families will appreciate the views of sheep-grazing nearby. And of course, let’s not forget about the vegetable garden thoughtfully planted with herbs and vegetables for guests to use.
And if you look straight ahead, the beautiful Kaikoura Ranges have not changed at all. They’ll always look spectacular no matter what season you travel.
New Zealand has generous hosts and this one is very generous. We have freshly-laid eggs from the ‘Spice Girls’ (yes, that’s what the owners hens are called), freshly cut herbs and a fantastic range of basic pantry items. But it’s the flowers in every room of the cottage, that really has to be the ultimate welcome card.
A Super-king bed is always a pleasure to slip into at night, especially if it is styled with care.
The only problem is dragging Michael away from his work which began 5 mins after we arrived. Work always beckons, not matter how far we are from our office base.
In the early afternoon we drove into town pass the promenade, to the Coastal walk carpark. We did a loop up around the hills then and as the tide went out, we returned via the beach below. Look at moi!
On the way back down through the rocky shoreline, we saw the usual group of seals nearby. Remembering the rule of not getting too close or blocking their escape route, we return their friendly wave before passing on.
It’s only when you stop, that the exhaustion of the last few months really begin to seep in. Can’t believe we collapsed into bed at 10.00pm – no counting sheep tonight!